After everything that Jennifer Horton has gone through on DAYS OF OUR LIVES, it’s understandable that every new crisis would make fans wonder if this was the last straw. But if you look back at the epic drama she's endured on DAYS, you’ll see that this woman is a fighter. The character first appeared in February of 1976, and was played by child actress Maren Stephenson. Then it was recast with Jennifer Peterson from December of 1977 until July of 1979, at which point the character was written off the show. Jennifer returned in October of 1985 and was played by Melissa Reeves, who is still portraying her now. (Although there was another recast from 1995-1998 when Stephanie Cameron took over for a little while.)
Jennifer Rose Horton is the daughter of Bill Horton and Laura Horton. Born during a snowstorm, when Jennifer was just a few years old, her mother — whose mental condition was deteriorating — put the tot on a bus all alone. When Laura was sent to a psychiatric facility, Jennifer was also shipped out of Salem. She returned as a troubled teenager in 1985, and after her brother, Dr. Mike Horton, saved her from her stalker, she moved in with her grandparents, Tom and Alice Horton. She had a platonic relationship with classmate Glenn Gallagher, but developed feelings for Frankie Brady. And like most teens, they spent their time foiling robberies and busting a prostitution ring. As you do. When Jennifer’s father, Bill, returned to Salem and tried taking over her life, she rebelled by getting engaged to Frankie. But learning of her mother and grandmother’s mental problems, worried about passing that on to her own children and broke off the engagement. They reunited briefly, but Eve Donovan exposed an affair Frankie had while they were split up and Jennifer broke up with him for good.
Working as an intern reporter at the Salem Spectator, Jennifer grew close to Jack Deveraux, but he wouldn’t admit his feelings for her. She ended up getting engaged to Emilio and a desperate Jack kidnapped her on her wedding day! When Jennifer was injured trying to escape, Jack poured his heart out to her. And after he saved her life during the Cruise of Deception, they made love for the first time. But then Lawrence Alamain came to town and she thought he believed her to be an heiress. They were quickly married, and he raped her. Jack rescued Jennifer, and then they eventually became engaged, though he called it off because she was unable to confess that she’d been assaulted. Jack married Eve to help her get her inheritance, but they divorced once Jennifer came clean and accused Lawrence of rape. Jack and Jennifer were finally married and she later gave birth to their daughter, Abigail Deveraux.
When Abigail was diagnosed with Aplastic Anemia, Jack was horrified that he had allowed the toxic waste dumping that caused it and left town. Jennifer began dating Peter Blake and they eventually got married. Jack returned and tried to prove that Peter was up to no good, but nothing happened until he caught the cad planning to drug Jennifer and take her out of the country. Jack shot Peter, and was sentenced to life for murder. When he broke out of prison, Jennifer went on the run with him and they joined the circus before moving to Africa. After a detour to Ireland, Jennifer returned to Salem with Bo Brady and Jack soon joined them to complete their family. Although she initially resisted, Jennifer once again became Mrs. Deveraux.
Jennifer was devastated when Jack was murdered by the Salem Stalker, and when she learned that the baby she was carrying could have mental and physical deformities, she refused to terminate the pregnancy and lose the last part of Jack she had. After discovering Jack alive on the island of Melaswen — and surviving a plane crash getting there! — Jennifer and Jack welcomed their son, Jack Patrick, Jr., better known as JJ Deveraux. Although Jack was again presumed dead on the return trip to Salem, he turned up alive and Jack and Jennifer left for London with JJ.
In 2010, Jennifer returned to Salem to say goodbye to her grandmother, Alice, before she passed away. She came home again later that year to help her friend, Hope, who had been imprisoned. Jennifer used her journalism skills to uncover an organ trafficking scam at the prison, and ended up one of the victims! Her heart was removed from her body, but Dr. Daniel Jonas helped put it back and save her life. Not only was Jennifer grateful to the handsome doc, she also started a flirtation and began dating him after finalizing her divorce from Jack. But then Jack came home and revealed he’d been held prisoner in Afghanistan. Seeing Jennifer was torn, Daniel set her free. Unfortunately, as Jack and Jennifer were reconnecting, Jack died saving Abigail from an elevator collapse when a series of explosions rocked Salem.
Nicole, who was carrying Daniel’s child, was jealous of Jennifer’s growing closeness with her beau, and after losing her baby, got into a fight with Jen so she could fall down the stairs and blame her for the miscarriage. After the truth was exposed, Nicole backed off and Jennifer and Daniel were able to be together again. And Daniel saved her life again when he removed her appendix before it burst! Chloe Lane returned to Salem with her son and revealed that it was Daniel’s boy and she wanted him back. But Chloe’s schemes failed, and Daniel and Jennifer were reunited.
JJ returned to Salem and didn’t approve of his mother’s relationship with Daniel, but he changed his tune after he was doing drugs with Theresa Donovan and the doc saved her life when she overdosed. Jennifer was also horrified to find out that JJ and Eve had been having an affair! Tragically, Daniel was killed in a car crash before his Valentine’s Day wedding to Jennifer and she was eventually able to heal her broken heart by embarking on a romance with Eric Brady. Unfortunately, she also had to deal with her addiction to drugs, JJ’s suicide attempt, and Abigail being committed to a mental institution. Then, just as things were starting to calm down, Jack showed up alive again on New Year’s Eve, and this time with amnesia!
Jennifer was eager to restore Jack's memories to get him away from Eve, who he had married, and even tried to get Dr. Rolf to mix up some of the same serum he'd used to help Will Horton remember his past. But Eve continued to meddle, desperate to keep her claws in Jack. After all of Jen's attempts, it was her being abducted by Dr. Henry Shah that led to Jack's memories flooding back. He immediately made up for lost time by dumping Eve and proposing to a delighted Jennifer who eagerly accepted. Unfortunately, shortly after their impromptu double wedding with Justin and Adrienne, Jennifer discovered that Dr. Rolf was planning on bringing Princess Gina back through Hope. Already in Hope's body, Gina decided to keep Jen from revealing the truth by throwing her out of a window to her death!
Stay tuned to see how Jen's story continues, and for more DAYS news, keep reading Soaps In Depth magazine!